First Drive 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

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Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars

First Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Nov 16, 2012

Chevrolet’s top designer John Cafaro likes to say the Spark minicar has larger headlamps than wheels. When it comes to the cute but startling Spark EV, visual drama is supplemented by an engineering feat for the sake of efficiency.

As Chevrolet’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Spark EV represents the all-out effort to adapt an existing model as a no-compromises electric car. General Motors’s product development chief Mary Barra said the company is not building the Spark EV to check a regulatory box.

Global sales are the stated objective after the Spark EV goes on sale late next summer. It will debut in select United States markets and South Korea, where the car is made. Unlike some other electrics, it can be purchased outright instead of acquired on a lease-only deal.

Final pricing is yet to be announced, but buyers will get an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on the 560-pound, 20-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Traces of Volt Styling

The five-door Spark relies on an outrageously bold stance and some crazy body colors, yet it still can’t help looking like a roller skate. The Spark EV bears only slight differences. Chief among them, the paneled nose is stenciled with energy waves, a knockoff from the Volt.

We briefly drove the preproduction prototype with lead development engineer Trista Schieffer alongside at Cavallo Point, an old fort near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Besides the nose job, the car was also trimmed with a prominent rear spoiler. While the final coefficient of drag hadn’t been determined, Schieffer assured us it would be lower than the current Spark’s.

Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars

It translates into range every single time the person drives this vehicle, the 39-year-old said of the slippery shape. We were able to close off the upper grille to optimize for aero and still meet our cooling and heating efficiencies.

Three liquid-cooling and -heating circuits, each with its own dedicated water pump, course through the car. One of them addresses thermal management of the rear-mounted battery pack. We can handle multiple charges in a day, even in a hot climate, because we have a liquid-cooled battery, Schieffer said.


The other liquid circuits are for the power electronics and the interior climate system.

Additional external visual highlights include a tiny EV badge on the rear liftgate and unique 15-inch alloy wheels. At 6.5 inches, the rear wheels are wider to retain stable handling characteristics in the face of greater mass. Low-resistance tires measure 185/55 R15 in front and 195/55 R15 in rear.

The left-front fender’s charging port betrays the means of propulsion.

A hard-to-see functional difference is the actively shuttered lower-front air intake. Opening and closing as needed, this electromechanically controlled device responds to calculations of temperature, road speed, activity of onboard electronic systems, and the power draw demanded by the car’s occupants.

Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars
Chevrolet Spark EV Electric Cars

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